Does TSA = Troyer Squeezing Administration?

Actor Vern Troyer, best-known for his role as "Mini-Me" in the Austin Powers movie franchise, posted this picture on his Twitter feed with the tweet "Another day another flight. #TSAstruggles."

Let's be clear: Hashtagging this sort of indignity "TSAstruggles" is being overly polite. The inspection of passengers provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has been a colossal waste of resources and time. Additionally, the process has normalized the sort of degradation captured above.

As Bruce Schneier wrote in a 2012 debate in the pages of The Economist:

Exactly two things have made air travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers that they need to fight back. Everything else has been a waste of money. Add screening of checked bags and airport workers and we are done. All the rest is security theatre. If we truly want to be safer, we should return airport security to pre-9/11 levels and spend the savings on intelligence, investigation and emergency response.

The TSA's latest innovation—identifying people in airports for extra-intense scrutiny—received a withering evaluation last fall as well:

The Government Accountability Office said its investigation found that the results of the TSA program -- called Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques -- were "no better than chance." Under the program, agents identify suspicious looking people and talk to them to determine whether they pose a threat. The investigators looked at the screening program at four airports, chosen on the basis of size and other factors.

"TSA has yet to empirically demonstrate the effectiveness of the program despite spending about $900 million on it since 2007," said Steve Lord, who directed the investigation for the GAO. He said the GAO, which is the research and investigative arm of Congress, "conducts active oversight of the TSA for the Congress given their multibillion-dollar budget." He said "the behavior detection program is viewed as a key layer of aviation security."

Read more here.

But it's all a small price to pay to win the War on Terror, right? 

Reason on TSA.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    The TSA is a jobs program. Do you have any idea how unemployment numbers would go up? It's an election year, after all.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Removing the TSA would increase throughput at the airports and return discouraged customers to the airlines who would otherwise not fly, more than making up for the loss of a few government jobs. Plus the dignity dividend is priceless.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But by their metric, it doesn't matter how many private sector jobs would be created; to them, even the loss of one government job is enough to cause them to mournfully ululate.

  • Swiss Servator, CH yeah!||

    Indeed - there is a reason TEAM BLUE pushed so hard to unionize these people...

  • x4rqcks3f||

    If we truly want to be safer, we should return airport security to pre-9/11 levels and spend the savings on intelligence, investigation and emergency response.

    The risk of being harmed by a terrorist is negligible. I don't need to be safer than that.

  • WTF||

    To be fair, Mini-Me is a well-known bad guy.

  • Brett L||

    So you're saying that they DO profile?

  • BakedPenguin||

  • croaker||

    There is a reason why TSA is barred from wearing the uniform anywhere but an airport. It's the only place where they can wear it without getting hit with rotten vegetables and animal feces.

  • UnCivilServant||

    So you know the Mayor of San Marino?

  • All-Seeing Monocle||

    Hillary Clinton, and her party's renowned focus on civil liberties, are our only hope.

  • Libertarian||

    Ah, Hillary. Her Amanpour "interview" was so full of evasions (there's got to be a better word than that to describe what she does). As an example:
    Clinton also said she supports fixing the immigration system. “I would be very open to trying to figure out ways to change the law, even if we don’t get to comprehensive immigration reform, to provide more leeway and more discretion for the executive branch,” she said.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/.....z34zheJ5iW

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "(there's got to be a better word than that to describe what she does)."

    Shuck and jive.

  • SugarFree||

    shriking: telling a lie over and over again until you believe it yourself

  • Libertarian||

    “I would be very open to trying to figure out ways.."

    She's really gone out on a limb this time!

    It will be interesting (and by "interesting" I mean so mind-numbing that my eyes will bleed) to see if she can go another two years without taking a stand on anything.

  • sarcasmic||

    I wonder how many TSA employees lie when asked what they do for work. That is if they are asked. They probably don't have any friends outside work. Like cops and other power junkies.

  • db||

    I.don't remember about.other airports, but in the security line at PIT, they have little picture bios posted of.some.of the TSA agents for you to read and.get acquainted. They are always former.military and/or.family folks who a "proud to.serve/continue serving" the.country.

    It's sweet, but it is obvious.propaganda.designed.to.get.you liking the player instead.of hating the game.

  • KDN||

    I have an acquaintance who works somewhere in the bowels of the TSA bureaucracy, she always makes it a point to stress that she is not part of the asshole inspection brigade. They're aware of how unpopular the agency is.

  • Dances-with-Trolls||

    she is not part of the asshole inspection brigade.

    Well which inspection brigade is she a part of?

  • KDN||

    Not sure, some kind of desk job. Like most government workers, her entire day consists of bitching about her kids on Facebook.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Nick, not that I'd tell you how to write red-meat-to-libertarians articles, but my first question - after the outrage over our idiotic 'Brazil'-like security oppression - how much is this shit costing me?

    Always add that to illustrate the depth and volume of idiocy.
    TSA's '14 budget is $7.3 billion.
    See page 72 for details.
    http://www.dhs.gov/sites/defau.....Y15BIB.pdf

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The basic missions of the Department of Homeland Security are,
    and should continue to be,preventing terrorism and enhancing security; securing and managing our borders; enforcing and administering our immigration laws; safeguarding cyberspace; strengthening national
    preparedness and resilience.

    With the exception of immigration and border enforcement, all of those missions are supposed to be under the aegis of the Department of Defense; likewise immigration should be under the Department of Justice and Department of State.

    DHS has less justification for its existence than the Department of Education, and the entirety of its staff should be hanged from the lampposts that line the National Mall.

  • Libertarian||

    Hey, BP, I was going to chastise you for confusing the TSA budget with the DHS budget. Then I looked at your link. Thanks for ruining my day.

  • ||

    Always add that to illustrate the depth and volume of idiocy.

    Another number that really matters is the lost productivity of the millions of man hours squandered every year while enduring the additional delays to business travel brought about by the security theater. A little back of the envelope calculation: 1.73 million people flying each day, let’s conservatively say 20% are flying on business and spending an additional 1 hour of completely wasted time per flight. Let's be generous and say they are costing their employer a minimum of $50 an hour. That comes out to another $4.3 billion per year if we only count weekdays. That doesn’t even put a price on the other 80% of travelers who would gladly be doing anything else. But at least a whole bunch of cast extras from the Wiggles touring company have gainful employment.

  • Rich||

    And the fun will *really* begin when TSA is also in train, bus, and metro stations.

    It is the "*Transportation* Safety Administration", after all.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm surprised that agent provocateurs haven't yet staged an attack on a train or bus, just to give them an excuse to put TSA goons there.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • Rich||

    Nice catch, HM. Yeah, I should have been more precise. What I meant was: when TSA screening lines are also in ....

  • BakedPenguin||

    ...and hundreds more people die each year, because they drive long distances to avoid this kind of shit.

  • db||

    I thought it was illegal to take pictures in an airport security screening area. The problem will go away when TSA begins taking seriously it's duty to stop travelers from documenting the security process.

  • db||

    Goddamn fucking auto correct! "It's" s/b "it's."

  • db||

    Ugh. Fuck autocorrect.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    DHS has less justification for its existence than the Department of Education, and the entirety of its staff should be hanged from the lampposts that line the National Mall.

    We're gonna need more lampposts.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The basic missions of the Department of Homeland Security are,
    and should continue to be,preventing terrorism and enhancing security; securing and managing our borders; enforcing and administering our immigration laws; safeguarding cyberspace; strengthening national
    preparedness and resilience
    .

    "Any fucking thing we can get away with," in other words.

  • Pulseguy||

    Canada follows in lock step with a lot of what the USA does. I had a friend fly on a commuter flight between Kelowna BC, and Prince George BC, and spend 1/2 hour in security. A middle-aged middle-class businessman, in Canada, flying between Nowhere BC and Podunk BC, spends 1/2 hour extra in security having a pat down. Because, you never know, he might be a terrorist.

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